Long-time Sri Lankan-American employee files $8 million lawsuit against City University of New York for discrimination

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Harendra “Harold” Sirisena, a long time employee of the City University of New York, is suing his employer for $8 million, on grounds he has been discriminated against on the basis of race and age. (Photo: Videograb from 2005 Asian American/Asian Research Institute of CUNY website where Sirisena is speaking about helping Sri Lankans affected by the devastating tsunami)

A Sri Lankan-American employed for more than a decade is suing the City University of New York for $8 million on grounds of discrimination based on race and age, which has taken an emotional and psychological toll. He says he has been given nothing to do while newcomers have allegedly bypassed him and been given new positions.

Harendra “Harold” Sirisena, former bursar of New York City College of Technology, currently an administrator at CUNY, who continues to receive more than $100,000 a year, says he has “nothing to do” and his work has been reduced year after year, the New York Post reported Dec. 16.

Sirisena says over the last 14 years, his responsibilities have been cut down for no apparent reason, according to the news report. The 72 year old man told the Post he comes to work only to sit idel from 7 am to 3 pm. To while away the time, Sirisena said he listens to music, watches games online and even nods off sometimes.

Last year the Post reported his story where Sirisena said his only task in 2016 had been to put names on form letters, and he had nothing to do for 86 percent of the time; Ironically, after his story went public, Sirisena was given a raise but even lesser work that before, the Post said.

In his lawsuit filed in the Brooklyn federal court, Sirisena asks “What did I do?” the Post reported.

From 1987-1995, Sirisena served as director of the bursar’s office. His work was appreciated as, he says in his lawsuit. Despite that praise, his application for becoming Higher Education Officer was rejected repeatedly, meanwhile, his bursar position was given to someone he claims was an “unqualified office assistant” and again to someone else who had little experience. The Post reported that CUNY claimed the Sri Lankan did not have the computer skills needed for his position, but Sirisena has a certificate in computer programming from NYU, and is a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University.

Over the years, Sirisena has been involved in humanitarian work, sending books for children in Sri Lanka, and assisting with Tsunami relief work in his ancestral homeland.

 

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